Kinetica Gower Triathlon 2012



Hooray! This morning was an amazing sunny, clear, blue sky, windless, summer Gower morning! Which was a good job as over 300 of us got up before the sun did to race in a sprint triathlon from Port Eynon. It’s a hell of a lot easier getting up daftly early when the rain isn’t bouncing off the roof & the wind isn’t throwing it at the windows. For some reason it’s always a bit of a rush getting sorted for this one. Maybe it’s the 7am start.

The swim is in the sea with a waist depth start kinda thing. The organisers were in a bit of a rush too as mid way through a warm up we were warned from a boat that the race would start in the next minute. Where is the start?

I stuck myself where I thought the start should be, on the line of buoys with the “front” guys but there were loads of swimmers scattered all over the place, many in front and to the side of us. The horn sounded unexpectedly, I found the start button on my watch & then chased the foam. In the pool yesterday I’d felt awesome & I’d set a new 1km PB in the week, but I wasn’t feeling it.

At the first buoy swimmers converged but some hadn’t paid attention to the swim route & tried to take a right angle over me to an imaginary buoy at the corner of a rectangle. This wasn’t a rectangular swim course though, it was more of a pointy sword shape so the angle of turn from the buoy was more like 120 degrees. I had to fend those buggers off and shoulder them in the right direction until. They got the gist.

We turned back to the shore from the next buoy and started to hammer it back to the beach. I was placed ok and it was all thinning out a bit, so it wasn’t going too badly. I spotted a line and a bunch of swimmers heading towards us from the left. These doughnuts had completely missed the furthest buoy and had taken a direct 90 degree turn to that imaginary buoy I mentioned. Some old fella T-boned me hard, oblivious to the bungle. So someone had taken the wrong line and a whole bunch had followed them and they’d all cut out a big chunk of the swim course. That was unlikely to affect us guys that would be at the eventual front but it was a bit of a blow to those that lost time to this group.

Fending off the attentions of the grey bearded swimmer and avoiding lamping him with my swim stroke I got going again in the front group. Into the shore the run up was a mix of soft sand and stones so we picked our way up as fast as we could. The swim was a bit too short and fast for my liking. For some reason I setup a battle between my wetsuit and my left elbow, which confused me, but transition itself was ok.



The bike route was Welsh and lumpy. The climb out of Port Eynon is short, steep, and great. It has been recently retarmac’d so its super smooth. Fairly big push up, pick up a bunch of places, settle into that lovely powerful aero position and tick off the K’s in the sun. I could see the riders ahead and picked off one at the top of Cefn Bryn (the main climb) and then another at the bottom of Cefn Bryn (the main descent). That was particularly satisfying as I caught that athlete with barely a pedal stroke at over 70kph in a full Sagan aero tuck.

The rate I was progressing I thought I’d catch the 2 ahead by the return to Port Eynon, but even putting the power on after Cefn Bryn I didn’t see them again until transition. It felt damned good pushing it back around the Gower and up the drag before the drop back to the sea. Good, good. Nice not to be blown around by the wind.

Coming into T2 James Hockin was just coming out so I wasn’t too far behind, but he and Ross Simpson are running a hell of a lot better than me right now. I stuck some cross country shoes on for this one in the vague hope that this might help but my cross country running skills are poor. Soft sand, firm sand, soft sand, boardwalk, sandy gassy paths, big gravel, soft sand, big puddles, grassy fields, ups and downs. Passing the aid station I lobbed my empty GlucoJuice bottle in a high arc from 10m into a large open bin and saluted the sky in achievement. The kids cheered that.

Towards the end of the first lap I started feeling good again and I kinda floated around the second lap. That was something I was thinking about and aiming at. Go light, power, drive, but glide over the rough surface. In the second lap I had to overtake a lot of athletes starting their first lap but I reckoned I had a good gap behind so the second lap was probably a bit steadier. By the finish line I was enjoying myself and fancied going around again. This 5k lark is a bit short for me I reckon. Something to work on maybe.

Third place again. I’m not particularly impressed by my performance, but the race was a nice reward in itself; a lovely morning, a pretty plaque, and free entry to next year’s race (that’s what I was running hard for on the first lap!) Claire also finished 3rd in the women’s race, Leanne finished 2nd (one of my students), and James and some other Cardiff Triathletes were also racing so I was glad I made the effort. If the kids could have got up and out the door at 5am we would have spent the rest of the day on the beach because it was a cracking morning. Instead once I finally got home I spent big parts of the afternoon asleep on the sofa in front of the final time trial of the Tour de France before watching Wiggo rip another minute off all all his competitors.

I’m hoping next year’s race will be in the middle of a hot and sunny summer.



Gower Triathlon website

Another race ticked: Triexercise Pembrokeshire Coast Triathlon 2012

Pembstri Broadhaven Kmm 028
Last weekend I turned up to another national champs race: the Welsh National Standard Distance Triathlon Championships at Broad Haven (ooh – I just noticed it’s part of the Grand Prix series and I should be at the next two events too). Pembrokeshire Tri Club’s race in St Bride’s Bay is always good. And hard. I’d entered late, half hoping I might not get my entry in on time and would offer to marshall instead as this was a training race and it bloody hurt last year when I tore some tendons! I didn’t really get psyched up to race until the pre-race briefing right before the start. The weather forecast hadn’t helped, but by Saturday morning it was lovely, sunny and windy.
Pembstri Broadhaven Kmm 039
The race started with a running entry into the sea from the beach. Always fun. Fast to the first buoy and then turned into a long section into the wind, which was tough and tricky to get onto and stay on feet and drafts. The second turn back towards shore made life a lot easier, and the third turn to swim parallel with the shore even better with the wind behind. Drafting was easier and I was in the main, front group, something I’ve been aiming to be able to do this year. I came out of the water in 12th I think. No hassles with the transition this time (I’m learning?) and out on the bike behind a couple of really good swimmers in the Cardiff Tri club. I picked up a lot of places on the climb straight out of the bay, which was a little worrying (am I going to explode? – this seems the right effort) and settled down a little after.
As far as I know I was the only numpty to have disk wheel on the back and a deep carbon wheel on the front for such a hilly, windy race. The organisers are proud of the fact that this race doesn’t have any flat bits other than the beach. I’d got the physics right though, as I picked up place after place, and rode myself into 3rd position by T2. I put out a good, solid effort but didn’t muller it because if you’ve done this race before you’ve always got *that* run in the back of your mind. Some guys had chosen UCI setups (i.e. road bikes with clip ons) but most of the fast riders had TT bikes out I think. My position and riding style means my TT bike actually works very well on hilly races, and it descends ok and climbs out of the saddle just fine. On a windy day it’s even more important to be as aero as possible, of course. I got blown about a bit by the wind on the front wheel being such a skinny bloke but it never really stalled out and I had plenty of room (and experience). Of the top finishers I had the 2nd fastest bike split, only a minute off Oliver Simon’s, and the 3rd fastest overall. I think that indicates I got it pretty much right. Disk wheels are great on windy days!
Pembstri Broadhaven Kmm 175
I had to shout at the top of my lungs to shift marshals and a car out of the way as I flew down the hills and bends into Broad Haven at I’ve no idea what speed. In T2 I missed by bike rack again (this race always catches me out with that one), I had to dip under a bar to find my spot. Running shoes on and a second GlucoJuice grabbed, I chased down the Pembrokeshire Tri athlete I’d almost caught on the bike and passed him on the muddy, puddly, slippery, brown coastal path up the hill. Beautiful views but the path needed focus to find your way around and up as effectively as possible. When I hit the top and the tarmac the wind almost stopped me. Nasty!
Pembstri Broadhaven Kmm 177
I knew two strong runners were chasing me down as I’d seen them on the beach when I’d got some elevation on the climb. James Hockin caught me at around 5km and stuck beside me, but when the road when up again my quads struggled and he easily strode away. I was caught again around 6km later, but I was starting to feel better again, and Ross got a gap on me that I held and thought I might have been pulling back a bit as we got closer to the road descent and the beach. No good though, and by the the beach it was all done with a big gap behind and a gap ahead. I finished in 4th place, just missing out on a 3rd bronze medal this year in a national or international championship event. Oh well. I performed very well, and much better than I thought I might. The running is going to take a while to come back together, and I’m in no hurry.
Pembstri Broadhaven Kmm 312
We had loads of Cardiff Triathletes racing too, and they all came in bit by bit, sharing stories and suffering on the beach. Jack and Annabel were happy to see me. It’s a good race for them to watch as it starts late and they get to play on the beach for most of the race if the weather’s good or to eat in the cafe if it’s not so good. The weather for the rest of the weekend was pretty good so we all (Cardiff Tri team mates too) camped for another night and had a lovely old time. Camping, kids and racing are hard, hard work. It’s a good job we relish suffering.
Pembstri Broadhaven Kmm 002
Kim’s race photos on Flickr.
Garmin data –